Why You Should Be Wary of Herbalife
As a professional sports nutritionist, it is my job to provide my clients with science based, factual nutritional information to ensure they are getting the best service possible.
Part of my job involves looking at current trends in the world of nutrition and helping people understand what is good and what is back. While looking around, I came across a website which has various blogs and information about Herbalife. One of them caught my eye which was called “Six facts about protein shakes” and was written by a member of the Herbalife Nutrition Advisory Board, which I thought I would have a look at to see what he had to say.
After reading it, I had immediately picked out several points about the products in question which made me feel a little bit angry and confused. This article is to look at these points from a nutritionists point of view and give you a little bit more information as to why you should be wary about some of these products.
1. My first point is referring to the 2nd paragraph in the section entitled: “Do protein shakes really work?”
He straightaway claims that ‘Yes’ they do, however looking at this example he is claiming that by taking a shake instead of a ‘typical breakfast’ you are saving 350 kcals per meal. My big issues with this are 1. If you start the day on 190 kcals you are not setting yourself up well for the day. A good, nutritious breakfast will keep you full for a long time. For example my breakfast this morning was a banana with Greek yoghurt, honey and cashew nuts which comes in at around 400Kcals. According to Herbalife this is too much. 2. Claiming to ‘save’ calories is putting across the message that weight loss is all about calories and you need to heavily restrict your calorie intake. Yes, to lose weight you do need to be in calorie deficit, however, consuming a calorie intake too low, you risk losing lean tissue, slowing down fat loss, and more importantly, eating fewer calories than your body needs to actually function properly! Which is potentially dangerous. Many people will notice after going on a heavily restricted calorie diet that they will pile a lot of the weight back on again due to the fact you are not fuelling your body properly which will result in it wanting to hold onto fat for storage afterwards.
2. Looking again at the section entitled “Do protein shakes really work.” The final paragraph states… “But remember that for the shakes to work, nutrition balance and limiting caloric intake are decisive factors. It will depend on your fruit and vegetable intake, meal appropriateness, stress control, sleep quality and exercise habits. A healthy, active lifestyle leads you to results!” This to me seems like he is just covering her back for when a. people realise the products are not a miracle cure and they need to eat healthily and exercise anyway and b. “A healthy, active lifestyle leads you to results!” is about the only thing I would agree with him on. Yes, a healthy, active lifestyle will lead you to results but at no point would I suggest a sugar laden milkshake as being healthy, if you spend your money on buying fresh, healthy food as well as regular exercise, instead of shakes it will go much further, will be far more satisfying and will be better for you.
3. My next point looks at this rather bizarre statement under the question “Are there any negative effects of consuming protein shakes?” Straight away he says No, then as you read on he tries to back this up by bringing in scientific papers, however, it then states “Studies of protein shakes, generally not U.S Herbalife products.” Not only did this make me laugh, it also made me wonder what the point of trying to make your shakes sound better by backing up the claim using research which doesn’t involve them. This immediately says to me that either there are no scientific papers looking at Herbalife or that there is but they aren’t very good so he is just generalising them along with other brands.
The other major issue I have with this is that he clearly states there is absolutely no negative effects of consuming them. He has at no point mentioned anything about any dietary issues such as allergies, diabetes etc. So someone reading the article may think they are totally fine when in actual fact they could find themselves causing more problems.
4. My final point is in relation to the question “Does a shake substitute for a balanced diet?” In the final paragraph it states that “if you already eat healthy, balanced, low calorie meals, you should continue with your fit lifestyle and probably don’t need to replace your meal.” Again, this shows you that you really do not need to take these products. For something that will set you back £55.30 a month just for a replacement meal, which a member of the nutrition advisory board is saying you don’t need, ask yourself this… is that really worth it? With that money you could buy around 73kg of porridge oats which would do you around 150 portions.
So just having a quick look through the article there are so many points which ring alarm bells with me, the main one being that the article was written by a member of their nutrition advisory board just makes it worse. With this in mind please be careful. As I have said on so many occasions it is easy enough to get the nutrition you need through food alone, the main thing is planning and being organised. Just taking 10 minutes out of your day to make a plan for the week’s meals will go a long way to making sure you are having a balanced diet. The cost of the products is extraordinary and when you think about how the company is structured it will also make you wonder how cheap they actually are to make? When every level of sales person receives a cut of the sales of the person above them, how can they keep making so much money as the line gets longer? The products must be very cheap to make (which says to me the ingredients can’t be the best quality) if they can run a business in this way and still make money. The marketing which goes into these products is very clever and is designed to target people in a way to make you feel like you need it.
Please be careful when you are looking to lose weight, unfortunately there is no miracle cure, however, just eating a healthy balanced diet will get you there safely as well as making you feel better and is sustainable… I’ve yet to meet someone who could drink shakes for the rest of their life.